Local citations are the information about your business published on the internet. They include the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) of your company. One of the most useful ranking factors for local SEO, you should have enough citations on the internet to rank higher than other businesses when people make a specific search.
For example, this is a local citation
Example Store Company
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone Number: *********
Local Citations and Local SEO
If you know about Google My Business Listing, or you at least use Google, then you have already noticed it. When you search for a product on the internet, Google displays the name of businesses near you which sell you that. Well, the purpose of local SEO is precisely that- you want your company name to pop out on people’s SERPs when they search for a service that you offer.
Citations are equivalent to backlinks when we are talking local SEO. Similar to how Google considers backlinks while ranking a website, it checks a business’ citations to verify it is good. Thus, similar to backlinks, you should create as much as citations as you can- but at the same time, do it in useful websites
For example, say you run a food business (or a restaurant to be specific). A high DA website in the hospitality niche mentions it in an article titled “Top 10 Places that Offer the Best Food in ****”. Google is going to notice that and consider your place next time hungry people in your area do a search.
Local SEO, these results popped out when I searched for ‘optometrist.’ Google considers citations while ranking those.
Types of Local Citations
There are two types of Local Citations. They are:
Structured Local Citations
A structured local citation consists of the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of businesses in a consistent manner. They mostly appear on websites which have been made for the primary purpose of storing company information. For example, business info in Google My Business Listing or Yelp Listing. Structured local citations are more of a ‘formal’ type of listing, and explicitly contain the information of your business so people can find you.
Unstructured Local Citations
Any citations apart from structured are unstructured local citations. They don’t have a specific structure or consistency. They might be present anywhere on the internet and might have partial or complete NAP information. For example, suppose you have a blog on your site where you want to inform people about a specific service you give. At the conclusion, you tell your visitors about your company and how they can contact you if they want the service. Then, that is an unstructured local citation.
Importance of Local Citations
As we said, your company information on different websites dictates how good you do with local SEO.
According to statistics, there are 63,000 searches per second on Google. At the same time, research says that 46% of all searches on Google are seeking local information.
As you can see, there are billions of searches on Google where people are specifically looking for local products. Thus, whatever niche you are in, you might reach an unimagined number of people if you can do good with local SEO.
You need a good number of local citations to impress two parties- customers, and Google itself.
How Do Citations Matter for Google
You can visit this page Moz where you can see how much citations matter while ranking local listings. (The numbers are frequently updated, so we can’t give you an exact percentage).
When Google finds your business information on a lot of places on the internet, it will conclude that people trust you.
At the same time, accurate information about your business (by the way, which is very important, and we discuss below) on various sites will help Google verify your relevancy. Thus, the search engine will provide you more priority on local searches.
Why do You Need to Create Local Citations for Customers?
You want people to find you. Thus, as you create citations on more sites, there is a better probability of people knowing about you and wanting to visit you. Also, having citations somehow creates an authority- as you have your company name on the internet and are willing to show it to as many people as you can, your customers will be more confident about your product.
Where Can You Create Local Citations?
There are many platforms on the internet for this purpose. We can categorize them on the basis of the industry:
Google My Business
The first thing you must do is create a Google My Business listing for yourself. You want your business information to intrigue the search engine, so the first thing you do is tell Google you exist. Remember, Google will try to match the citation in My Google listing with those on other sites while ranking businesses. Thus, the citations that you have on other websites must have the exact information that you have on GMB.
Core Structured Citations
Some platforms have been designed with the core purpose of letting businesses create their profiles. Or, some sites like Facebook, even if they have primarily been designed for other tasks, still let you create a structured citation. Core structured citations are vital when we are talking local SEO, and you should build as much of them as you can.
Yelp, Yahoo Local, Apple Maps, Facebook, and Acxiom are some examples of platforms which let you create core structured citations.
Geo and Industry Specific Platforms
They are similar to core structured platforms, only that they list businesses in a certain niche. For example, Trivago lets you create hotel listings. Also, they could vary by the location.
Industry-specific platforms do affect the way that Google sees you, but at the same time, they help you directly get discovered. You are sure to get amazing results if you can master geo and industry-based citations.
We have already discussed it. You can create citations on any types of websites such as blogs, news sites, apps, press, etc. Google considers the authority and popularity of these sites while deciding whether the citations you have there should improve your ranking or take it down.
Aim for better publications and blogs while you are looking for unstructured citations. You need to have a plan to approach and network with them. For example, guest posts or social media campaigns can help.
Things to Remember While Creating Citations for Your Business
Citations might be essential, but you need to follow some rules if you actually want them to convert. Here are some things you should consider while creating local citations for your business.
Make Your Citations Accurate
Your information on every site should match with the citation that you have on your Google My Business Listing if you want the search engine to notice you. Being consistent is very important because if not, Google might think of your different citations as different businesses. At the same time, having unmatching information will make you less trustworthy.
Therefore, you should be very careful about creating citations. Remember, it is very sensitive- for example, if on your Google My Business Listing you have “My Company Private Limited” but in Yelp it is “My Company Private Ltd.,” it might not be preferable.
Focus on the Quality
Similar to creating backlinks, you should stay away from the thoughts of spamming through your citations. Google considers the quality of the websites which mention you. Thus, you should be citing on legitimate sites rather than listing your business everywhere you can.
You will need to build genuine connections and actually help people with your product. People can mention the name of your business in review sites, and the citation will be a negative one if your customers only have bad things to tell about you.
Don’t Only Go After Core or Industry Specific Platforms
As we mentioned earlier, sites such as Yelp and Apple Maps are the best places to put your citations. However, it is not enough. Remember, SEO is a competition. These platforms are so common that almost everyone with an understanding of local SEO will use them. There is a huge possibility that your competitors also have their information on those listings. You will have to do something more.
Create as many unstructured citations as you can. Sometimes, the rankings boil down to their volume. However, never do so in spam sites.
Some Common Mistakes You Should Avoid While Creating Citations
Not Having a Strategy
You should have a plan to make citations count. For example, make a list of the sites where you want your business to appear. Then, create an e-mail requesting them that. Have alternatives on your mind.
Not Analyzing Your Competitors
Closer you can work with your competitors, better the results you can get. Being an SEO agency ourselves, we like to research in depth about the citations of our clients’ competitions. We try to find its accurate count and then create more on higher DA websites. It works.
No Plans for Inaccurate Data Discovery
Alright, say that you become very careful while creating citations. However, sometimes, you get ‘automatic citations.’ For example, a famous food reviewer visiting your restaurant, liking your food and writing an article for you without you knowing about it. In cases such as this, some inaccurate data might be created.
Citations Without Content
Another way of telling don’t spam with your business information; we recommend you to put good content everywhere you cite. For example, say you run an electronics store. A site has a title about the top 10 places for people to get their television fixed. There is no content inside the title, only the company name, and address. Things like these won’t have a lot of creditability.
Nothing Done to Citations after Changes in the Business
Say that you change the phone number of your company. This might affect your local SEO if you don’t update the information on all of your citations. It is because, with the updated information on new listings that you will create, Google will find imprecise data.
Citations let Google know about existence. They should be an integral part of your local SEO strategy. You will need to optimize your business for citation, but be careful of not overoptimizing it.